Alternative lender in SME space joins bankers association

By David Stevenson on Wednesday 7 September 2016

Alternative Lending

Just Loans Group PLC signs up as associate member of BBA

Stockmarket listed alternative SME funder Just Loans Group has become the first alternative commercial lender to become an Associate Member of the British Bankers’ Association.

For much of the last few years, alternative lenders have been keen to burnish their anti-establishment credo. More than a few alternative events for instance have featured a slide or two predicting the imminent demise of traditional banking – Banks RIP is the much trumpeted dire threat. But in the last few years a much more amicable relationship seems to have emerged between the banks and alternative finance platforms, with marketing and origination deals increasingly commonplace.

SME focused lender Just Loans seems intent on going one step further - it's now joined the banks’ main trade body, the BBA. This well known outfit has over 240 member organisations with a global presence. The BBA proclaims that it is the voice of banking, representing the world’s largest banking cluster with 80 percent of global, systematically important banks as members. The BBA supports and promotes policies and initiatives that balance both the interest of banks and the wider public.

So, what's behind the Just Loans move? Just Loans Group CEO John Davies (pictured above) commented: "I don't believe that traditional banks and alternative lenders are in competition with each other as they share the common aim of helping UK businesses invest and grow. We see the future as traditional banks and alternative lenders increasingly working in partnership with each other. Aligning ourselves with the BBA - the voice of banking in the UK - is a great way to accelerate this and share experiences to date that come from a sole focus on business lending and innovative FinTech investments."

The news that an alternative lender has decided to work with the BBA is obviously something of a coup for the bankers’ trade body. Richard Adler, the BBA's Relationship Director, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Just Loans Group as an associate member. We are looking forward to working with The Just Loans Group platform.”

Just Loans’ move to join the body representing traditional bankers might soon be followed by other lenders looking to improve their industry credibility. There are even rumours circulating that a few platforms might go one step further and apply for banking licenses. At which stage one has to ask: at what point does an alternative lender stop being that alternative?

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